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Month: July 2009

8th Annual Tuna Tournament Results

DSC_7147With a total purse of $161,620 available for prize money, 40 boats entered South Jersey Marina’s 8th Annual Tuna Tournament that was held this past week. The forecasted bad weather held off and during the three day event we saw 44 tuna weighed. There were many winners, but the top prizes went to:

Moore Bills Rob Skillman 169 lb. Bluefin (pictured right)

Liquidity Ed Katzianer 163 lb. Bluefin

Trust Me Jim Foulke 68 lb. Yellowfin

Sea Mistress John Raimondo Heaviest Stringer

For all of the results and pictures at the scales, go to our website,
www.southjerseytournaments.com.

Earlier in the week Don Scotti and his Over the Top went offshore and landed a 121.5 Bluefin.


Heaviest dolphin fish this year

28.8 pound dolphin fish

28.8 pound dolphin fish

Amanda Miller came to Cape May for vacation this week all the way from Queen Creek, Arizona and decided to join her family for an offshore fishing trip on Capt. John Sowerby’s charter boat Hooked Up II.  Since this group lives where there is no salt water, they were not sure what to expect from an offshore fishing trip. They were quite successful: after releasing a few undersized Bluefin tuna, they landed a 78- and 40-pound keeper. But the catch of their day was a 28.8-pound Dolphin. It was the heaviest Dolphin caught this year at South Jersey Marina. The family was overwhelmed with the size and the amount of food these three fish provided.

Capt. Pritchard and his Big Game charter boat also went offshore on Saturday 7/11 and landed six 10-15 pound Dolphin and a 48 pound Bluefin tuna.

Inshore fishing has also been very productive this week. Capt. Pritchard  had the Beards family charter to South Shoal on a 6 hour trip on his Big Game and trolled up 35-40 Bluefish before switching to bottom fishing and then caught several Flounder.

Capt. Bill Bittmann had a group out on his charter boat Top Shelf and over the Cape May reef they caught 41 Trigger fish and several Blue fish…quite a haul.


Fluke & Dolphin Fish

Fluke caught by Top Shelf

Fluke caught by Top Shelf

The inshore fishing this week has really produced some nice catches for the South Jersey Marina Charter Fleet. Capt. Bittmann on the Top Shelf caught several flounder on Wednesday and has 10 of them on display in the attached photo. Capt. Lechner on the Slammer also caught 10 flounder that day. Sea bass continues to provide action fishing over the wrecks.

On Friday Capt. Bittmann went offshore and landed 3 real nice dolphin. The heaviest weighed 16.8 pounds. The Jim McLeod group of Ottowa, Ontario had plenty of Mahi-Mahi to share at Fourth of July dinners this weekend.


Get the Drop on Drupes

Raspberries

Raspberries

I can hear the grumblings already.  What kind of off-the-wall, hard-to-find and cook culinary item is a drupe?  Drupe is the botanical term for a fruit which has an outer fleshy part surrounding a shell containing a seed. The defining characteristic of a drupe is that the hard, lignified stone is derived from the ovary wall of the flower. Prominent drupes include coffee, mango, and olive, most palms, including date and coconut, and the entire genus Prunus. The latter includes the almond, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum. Blackberries and raspberries are aggregate drupelets.

The drupe is one diverse food group. The common denominator in culinary terms seems to be intense flavor. This makes for fun in the kitchen. The advantage of cooking with strong dominant flavors is that you just have to accent the flavor. When perfectly ripe, these fruits are a joy au naturel. Eating a ripe peach right off the tree is a summertime right of passage, while wonderful fresh peaches are great in pies and cobblers, the sweet flesh enhanced by cooking. Peaches are also delicious grilled and work well in savory dishes such as grilled pork and pulled barbecue pork.

Peaches are divided into clingstone and freestone varieties, referring to the relative ease with which the stone is removed from the flesh. In cooking and baking the freestone is preferred since it is perceived to be easier to work with.

Blackberries

Blackberries

Of all the drupes, cherries may have the largest mythology surrounding them. We all grew up the tale of George Washington and the cherry tree. Cherries have also been linked in folk medicine to curing everything from arthritis to insomnia. For years these reports have been dismissed as old wives tales. But folklore is around for a reason. Recent studies show tart cherries contain significant amounts of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally secreted in the brain which has been credited with slowing the aging process and helping fight insomnia.

Life should include a bowl of cherries. Besides pies, cherries work in one of my favorite desserts – the French classic, Clafoutis.  I was first turned on to this by a rerun episode of Julia Child. This is probably the most simple of all desserts. It is essentially a pancake batter that when baked becomes a light custard. Classically, this is made with fresh cherries with the pits still in them. Unless you have a fantastic dental plan I recommend pitting the cherries first.

Cherries also work great with chocolate – always a favorite combination of my Dad’s.

The mysterious aggregate drupes, blackberries and raspberries, are summertime delights. Great in jams and preserves. I personally enjoy them fresh with a splash of Grand Marnier, a pinch of sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Blackberries and raspberries can be hard to tell apart, especially since there are red and black raspberries. The difference is that raspberries, both red and black, have hollow centers.

Get the drop on drupes this summer and make Peach pie, Cherry Clafoutis and Fresh Blackberries and Raspberries with Sabayon Sauce. Until next month, Bon Appétit

Blackberries with Sabayon (Zabaglione for the Italian folks)

  • 5 Egg yolks
  • ⅓ Cup sugar
  • ⅓ Cup Grand Marnier*
  • 1 Cup heavy cream, whipped stiff
  • 5 Cups blackberries or combination of berries

Set up a double boiler with a pot of water and a stainless steel bowl. The water level should not touch the bottom of the bowl.

In stainless steel bowl whisk yolks and sugar until mixture turns pale yellow and ribbony (approximately three minutes). Whisk in liquor and place bowl over simmering water. Whisk vigorously over the water for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture triples in volume and reaches 140 degrees on thermometer. The egg will froth at first, and then stiffen. If the eggs start to scramble, remove from heat and whisk harder. Return to heat, continue.  Cool mixture and serve with berries and cream.

*Marsala is traditionally used. I like Grand Marnier for berries, and occasionally even champagne. Be adventurous. Try different liqueurs or spirits. The ingredient may change, but the technique remains the same.

Cherries

Cherries

Cherry Clafoutis

(Serves 6)

  • 1 Pound stemmed and pitted fresh cherries (worth the work)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon almond extract
  • 1½ Cups milk
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Peter Heering Cherry Brandy

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cherries, brandy and half the sugar. Let sit 20 minutes. In bowl whisk eggs and sugar. Add in flour and almond extract. Whisk in milk until smooth. Divide cherries into 6 eight-ounce greased ramekins. Top with batter. Bake 40 minutes until sponge-like. Cool five minutes. Serve warm with powdered sugar or unsweetened whipped cream.

Peaches

Peaches

Peach Pie

  • 2 Nine-inch pie crusts (Use your favorite recipe or by pre-made)
  • 6 Cups peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Cup demerara sugar
  • ⅓ Cup plus1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter cut in pieces
  • Milk to brush top crust
  • Sugar to dust top crust

In bowl mix sugar, peaches, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Let sit 10 minutes. Mix with flour. Put in pie shell. Dot with cold butter. Cover with top crust. Crimp closed. Brush with milk and dust with sugar. Cut vents. Bake for 50 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool.


Which beach is THE beach?

beach shots 2006 060

Originally published in Cape May Magazine, July 2006. Photographs by Erin Kirk and Sara Kornacki

Cape May has some of the best beaches in the world. Yup, in the world.

Now before you start rattling off some exotic names from far-off places, think about it: when it comes to accessibility, enjoyability, affordability, agreeability, hard-body visibility, gastro-diversity and eco-activity, Cape May is tops. Truly.

No need for a boat or plane to get to Cape May’s beaches. Sure, everyone wants to visit Maui, or St. John, or San Tropez, but do you have an extra five grand for transportation? Beach tag fees are reasonable on Cape Island and the water is some of the cleanest around. It’s safe, well-kept and the businesses are locally-owned. There’s fishing, boating, swimming, eating, drinking, partying, and yada yada yada. Shall I continue? I think not.

But while the peripherals – the great restaurants, the historic architecture, the cool vibe –are added bonuses that can keep you occupied throughout the year, it’s the beaches – from Lower Township through Cape May Point and up to Poverty Beach  – that are the jewels in the Cape Island crown.

Cape Island is a hoof-shaped spit of land at the southern tip of New Jersey. The Delaware Bay laps the western edge of the island, Cape May City fronts the Atlantic on the southeastern side and the Cape May Canal, built around the time of World War II, cuts the island off from the rest of the mainland on the northside. And in that ten or so square miles of peninsula are beaches as divine and diverse as any coastal area in the states. Let’s start on the bayside.

higbee dog 2Higbee Wildlife Management Area

Higbee Beach is a wildlife management area owned by the state. It’s wild, there are no lifeguards or bathrooms, and it can practically disappear at high-tide. But it’s a great place to get away from the madding crowd and let the dog run loose.

To get there, turn left onto New England Road just before you cross the canal bridge on Seashore Road. Follow New England Road, and please drive slowly as there are kids about and besides, there’s some great open space that commands a slow look. The road dead-ends into the tree-lined and pothole-riddled parking lot.

higbee dog 3Higbee is a great place to take your dog. The beach is bounded by wild dunes covered in native New Jersey scrub bushes like bayberry, Ragusa roses and low pine. But as for amenities, there are none. I think there’s a port-a-john out there but I’ve never used it. And whatever you do, don’t go swimming in the water and for heaven’s sake, don’t go diving around out there. The remains of former industries and people’s past lives are close below the surface out at Higbee and you could easily swim into the remains of someone’s chimney or an old dock or something. With no lifeguards and submerged hazards Higbee’s is not the best swimming beach on the island.

You should also know that Higbee has a, um, colorful, reputation. It’s not a common occurrence, but occasionally someone is arrested on the beach for the crime of being naked. Nudists are drawn there like moths to a flame and some have taken their fight to the courts, attempting to lobby the powers that be to let them do their thing. But alas, going au natural at Higbee remains a crime and the undercover officers (no pun intended) there will make you put your clothes on. They’ll probably ticket you and if you give them cause they’ll arrest you. The rules are fewer at Higbee but don’t go nude.

Here’s the skinny. It’s a great bike ride out to the beach if you’re in the mood. It’s a couple mile ride from Cape May but it’s enjoyable (I suggest the Bayshore route). Get there and let the dog run without a leash but be prepared to meet other unleashed dogs. Expect skeeters and pee before you go there. Marvel at the rugged shoreline and watch the Cape May Lewes Ferry as it steams into port. Contemplate the mystery of the South Voodoo Tree (look for it, you’ll see it). If you go into the woods, check yourself for ticks when you leave.

sunset-beach

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

Adjacent to Higbee (yet a several mile trek by Bayshore Road) is Sunset Beach in Lower Township. Sunset Beach, as you might guess offers great sunsets every night and is a favorite spot for families and people who simply want to park free and park very close to the beach. There’s a nearby gift shop and the Sunset Grill offers beach fare al fresco.

“I love their crabcake sandwich,” said Jane Ashburn of Lumberville, Pa.

Sunset is a cute spot to sit (there are benches) or stare (there are coin-operated binoculars), fly a kite or take pictures. If you want photos of the S.S. Atlantus, the experimental concrete ship resting offshore (locals simply refer to it as the Concrete Ship), get there quickly, the ocean is claiming its hulking remains. And the nightly flag-lowering ceremony is stirring.

“Sunset is my favorite,” said Jane, who claims to be 70 but looks closer to 55. “I’ve been coming here all my life. I love the guy that makes everybody get up at the end of the day and salute. It’s old-fashioned, it’s patriotic and we need that.”

You might find Cape May Diamonds at Sunset, but you need to know what you’re looking for. There are no lifeguards, the sand is a little rough and it’s not one of the sexier beaches on the island, but it’s worth a look.

“My sister and I always come to Sunset,” said Alyisa Mercaldo, 20, of Green Creek. “It’s just where we like to be. I like to look for diamonds.”

A fun and easy bike ride down Sunset Boulevard to Sunset Beach should be on your list of things to do. Look for Fire Control Tower #23 in the scrub and take a tour.

Cape May Point beach

Cape May Point beach

Cape May Point

I love the point. Quaint, quiet, 99.9 percent residential, unassuming, independent, close-knit and fun loving, “The Point” is a unique spot. It reminds me of some remote seaside outpost; constantly battling with a furious ocean intent on devouring the beaches and driving residents further inland. But Point residents, all six of them (I kid), are fiercely independent and sweep the sand out of the streets every spring and carry on.

The Point, with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, has been refurbishing its entire stretch of beach for several years. As a result, the beaches are wider and flatter than they’ve been in years. It’s a much mellower vibe than Cape May City and the beach patrol are a fun, friendly and professional bunch.

“I’m not sure I should tell you about my favorite spot,” said Jen Kopp of Lower Township. “But I like St. Peter’s in the Point. It’s quiet, there’s free parking – it’s my secret spot.”

Not much in the way of amenities in the point and that’s the way they like it out there. Pack a lunch and understand that facilities are very limited.

Cape May Point State Park

point

Cape May Point state park

A beach replenishment project meant that the park had to add new walkways across the dunes in the park. And a much-debated effort to rid the area of invasive phragmites has cleared large tracts of the park of the unsightly reeds and opened new vistas that haven’t been seen in awhile.

The concrete bunker now sits on dry land thanks to untold tons of sand pumped onto the beach. The beach is free but swimming is still prohibited due to underwater hazards, like railroad tracks and the remnants of World War II gun batteries.

The park is a great place to see dolphins and a walk east toward Cape May is an energizing stroll through the William and Jane Blair bird refuge. There are great facilities at the park as well as rangers. The park is also home to the world famous Cape May Lighthouse and hawk watching platform. It’s a nice place to bird watch or people watch and has picnic and grilling facilities. The clean bathrooms alone are worth the price of admission, which is free.

City Of Cape May

The Cove

The Cove

The City of Cape May has the kind of beaches that the Jersey Shore is famous for: lots of bikinis, plenty of nearby bars, restaurants and shopping, and a long history of beach culture. The nuances of each beach require years of study to fully appreciate. Cape May beaches – the slope, the size, the crowd, the waves – change from year to year. But the surf, sand and sun are the constants that have attracted people from far and wide for centuries.

Cape May requires beach tags and has more rules than other beaches on the island. Go to capemaycity.org for a complete schedule of beach times, guard schedules, fees and ordinances. Locals mix with tourists on all the beaches although lots of people tend to return to the same spot throughout a summer season. Don’t worry about anything, just layout your blanket and chill.

The Cove is the king of the Cape May beaches. The gentle slope has made the Cove a family-friendly spot recently and the surfing there is always popular. The Cove is an ever-changing place and the shape of the beach changes from year to year. Some folks think it’s getting a little crowded, but the view is spectacular and the flag lowering ceremony is inspirational. Good sand too. Weekend weddings can be a nuisance, but it’s still a happening spot. Locals – the ones who have a free moment in the summer – often arrive after 5.

Grant Street Beach and CMBP headquarters

Grant Street Beach and CMBP headquarters

“The Cove is my favorite spot, hands down,” said Sue Lotozo, owner of the Flying Fish Studio on Park Boulevard in West Cape May, and a local beach connoisseur. “I like to get there after four when everyone’s leaving and stay until the last shred of daylight is gone from the sky. I like the way it’s ever-changing. One year there’s a giant tide pool and the next there’s an exposed jetty.”

The Cove is a laid-back place.

I like the community of surfers at the Cove,” added Sue. “It’s a nice long ride heading’ down toward the lighthouse. There are a lot of regulars there, just a wide range of people. You wind up getting to know these people just because you like to surf the Cove.

And the Cove offers plenty of natural attractions as well. Sue describes her walks along the water edge as a “science experiment.”

“You can find all kinds of unusual beach artifacts. It’s not groomed and it’s very natural,” said Sue.

As you move east (or north, depending on whom you’re talking to) Broadway is next. Broadway is the beginning of what’s locally regarded as the locals’ beaches. A lot of the West Cape May kids follow Broadway right to the beach. The locals all know that Broadway is where the younger kids hang. The unspoken pecking order that rules adolescent life ensures that the local grade and middle-schoolers have their own space at Broadway.

But Broadway also attracts a diverse crowd, including long-timers like Dan Anderson, 60, who hangs at Broadway, well, “because it’s where my wife goes.”

Smart man. Seriously though, want to know why Dan lives at the beach?

Congress Beach

Congress Beach

“So I can sea (see) level,” he claims. Get it? “There’s bathrooms, good lifeguards (I was a lifeguard on that beach for about a month many years ago) and there’s a place to get food.”

As you move east Patterson is where you’ll find the legendary Rusty Nail restaurant and bar. It’s a beach patrol hangout, boasts the coldest beer in town and is recommended for a visit.

Grant Street is home to the world famous Cape May Beach Patrol headquarters (but they don’t sell beach tags). Plenty of eye candy though. Then there’s Windsor, a favorite neighborhood beach.

“I’ve been coming to Windsor Beach since 1948, because, well, I’ve always lived on Windsor,” said Sandy Thomson, who relocated to Cape May in the 1990s after a career as a teacher.

Congress Street has been host to the fireworks display on July 4. It’s also the location of Congress Hall, which some consider the city’s “living room.” Congress Hall does things right and the personalized beach chair and towel service is a great example. If you’ve had the pleasure of staying at Congress Hall take advantage man, take advantage.

stegers

Steger’s Beach

When you hit Perry Street, you’re in the thick of. This is the start of Steger’s Beach and it’s where you’ll find many of the young locals, including Kelsey Herchenrider, from Lower Township. You might find Kelsey with a large group of her friends right in front of the South End Surf Shop.

“I like hanging out with all my friends,” said Kelsey.

The Perry Street side of Steger’s is mainly high schoolers, it gets older as you move east and it’s been that way for a long time. Freshman might get to hang at Stegers, but they’re also probably going to get some lectures on taking care of their beaches and all that stuff.

“It’s a chill place,” said Sean Peterson. “All the good food places are there.”

conventionNext up is Decatur Street, which is a magnificent spot. There are plenty of nearby restaurants and bars in case you need a break from the sun. Cabana’s, Carney’s, Martini Beach and the Fin Bar are all located just steps from the Decatur Street beach. It’s also a favorite spot for some of the twenty-something locals, like Megan Magill who can be found with a few of her close friends right in front of Cabana’s.

“You can see everything that’s going on from here,” said Megan. “You can see Beach Drive (actually, it’s Beach Avenue – but most locals refer to it as Beach Drive), you can see the Boardwalk. Plus you know when it’s time to head up for happy hour.”

If you’re wondering how to score one of those beach boxes or cabanas, call Steger’s Beach Service. They’ve got the franchise on those babies and the word on them is that they get passed down from generation to generation.

“Yeah, some of the names on those cabanas have been there a long time,” said Sandy Thomson.

Howard is the beginning of East Cape May. The shopping and bars are replaced by giant beachfront inns and houses.  I think the beaches just don’t seem to get enough of the beach groomer’s attention out here, but families return to these beaches out here like the swallows to San Capistrano. East Cape May runs for a mile or so and includes Jefferson Street, Queen Street (say hi to local photographer Don Merwin), Madison, Philadelphia (get a hotdog at the little hotdog stand there. I guarantee it’s worth the price), Reading (Peter Shields Inn), Pittsburgh, (home to the La Mer Inn), Baltimore, Brooklyn and finally Poverty Beach at Wilmington.

poverty

Poverty Beach

Poverty Beach has a long history. Legend has it that in the old days the “help” frequented poverty beach. The entrance to the beach has changed a bit, but there are showers there now. Free parking is a plus and the crowd includes many people from the nearby neighborhood.

“I love Poverty,” said Samantha Lapp of North Cape May. “It’s quiet and there are no parking meters.”

From Higbee Beach to Poverty Beach, Cape May is a beach-lovers’ paradise. Pick the beach that suits you best and put your best suit on (swimsuit that is). Whether you’re interested in seeing friends, returning to a traditional spot, convenient food and beverage, solitude, or nearby shopping, there’s beach that’s just right for you in Cape May.